Kick-starting 2020 with a few talks!

The new year has just started, and our lab is already busy with several talks this week! Specifically:

-Christos will deliver a talk at the Ringvorlesung Multilingual Mind at the Department of Linguistics, University of Konstanz, on Tuesday 7/1 at 5 pm. The title will be “The effects of bilingualism on brain structure

-Toms will present a paper at the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) London meeting on Thursday 9/1 at 12.00. The title of the paper will be “The effects of bilingualism on the structure of the hippocampus and on memory performance in ageing bilinguals

-Toms will also give a talk at the annual conference of the Association for Science Education on Saturday 11/1 at 14.00 . The title of the talk will be “Effects of bilingualism on healthy ageing and dementia

See you there!

New pre-print: Bilingualism and neurodegenerative disorders beyond Alzheimer’s Disease

Voits, T., Pliatsikas, C., Robson, H, Rothman, J.(2019): Beyond Alzheimer’s Disease: Bilingualism and Other Types of Neurodegeneration

To access, click here

Abstract
Bilingualism has been argued to have an impact on cognition and brain structure. Such effects have been reported in healthy children and young adults, but also in ageing adults, including clinical ageing populations. For example, bilingualism may significantly contribute to the delaying of the expression of Alzheimer’s dementia symptoms. If bilingualism plays an ameliorative role against neurodegeneration, it is possible that it would have similar effects for other neurodegenerative disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Diseases; however, relevant evidence remains limited. Herein, we provide a focused literature review on the effects of these progressive neurological disorders on cognition and brain structure, examine how the affected functions and brain regions map to those suggested to be impacted by bilingualism, and report the limited evidence of the impact of bilingualism on these conditions. We then examine the value of making links across neurodegenerative disorders and bilingualism, proposing that available evidence warrants claims for bilingualism-related effects more generally, with an eye at future research to fill in gaps in our understanding.

New paper on bilingualism and Multiple Sclerosis, in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism

Aveledo, F.Higueras, Y.Marinis, T.Bose, A.Pliatsikas, C.Meldaña-Rivera, A.Martínez-Ginés, M. L.García-Domínguez, J.Lozano-Ros, A.Cuello, J. P. and Goicochea-Briceño, H. (2019) Multiple sclerosis and bilingualism: some initial findings. To appear in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism.

To access, click here

Abstract

Bilingualism has been suggested to be beneficial for executive control and could have positive long-term effects by delaying the onset of symptoms of degenerative diseases. This research investigated for the first time the impact of bilingualism on the executive control, specifically the monitoring and inhibitory control, in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a neurodegenerative disease which commonly causes deficiencies in the cognitive system. Bilingual and monolingual adults, with and without an MS diagnosis, performed a flanker task in two degrees of monitoring demands (high monitoring vs. low monitoring). Results showed that bilingual MS patients had similar inhibitory control and monitoring abilities to healthy bilingual controls. In contrast, monolingual MS patients showed similar inhibitory control but significantly worse monitoring abilities compared to monolingual healthy controls. We propose that the similar behaviour between bilingual groups suggests that bilingualism might counteract cognitive deficits related to MS, especially with respect to monitoring. The high monitoring cost observed in monolingual patients seems related to underlying deficits in the monitoring and possibly switching, executive control abilities commonly impaired in MS patients from early stages. Our findings provide some preliminary evidence for the cognitive reserve hypothesis in bilingual MS patients

Call for Papers: Conference on Multilingualism (COM) 2020 @ the Centre of Literacy and Multilingualism, University of Reading.

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The next Conference on Multilingualism 2020 (COM2020) will be hosted by the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) at the University of Reading (UK) from the 23rd to the 25th of June 2020.

The conference explores all aspects of multilingualism in the fields of linguistics, psychology, neurology, sociology, and educational sciences. We particularly welcome papers that address issues related to the five CeLM themes: Language and Literacy, Education, Neuroscience, Health and Migration. The call for oral and poster presentations is now open. Please submit abstracts on EasyChair by following this link.

Deadline for abstract submission:  7th January 2020

Outcome of review process: 7th February 2020

Conference URL: https://research.reading.ac.uk/celm/com2020/

Conference Email: com2020@easychair.org

 

Publication news 2/2: New empirical paper on the differential effects of bilingual language experiences on brain function in NeuroImage

DeLuca, V., Rothman, J., Bialystok, E., & Pliatsikas C. (2019): Duration and extent of bilingual experience modulate neurocognitive outcomes. NeuroImage. 

To access, click here

Abstract:

The potential effects of bilingualism on executive control (EC) have been heavily debated. One possible source of discrepancy in the evidence may be that bilingualism tends to be treated as a monolithic category distinct from monolingualism. We address this possibility by examining the effects of different bilingual language experiences on brain activity related to EC performance. Participants were scanned (fMRI) while they performed a Flanker task. Behavioral data showed robust Flanker effects, not modulated by language experiences across participants. However, differences in duration of bilingual experience and extent of active language use predicted activation in distinct brain regions indicating differences in neural recruitment across conditions. This approach highlights the need to consider specific bilingual language experiences in assessing neurocognitive effects. It further underscores the utility and complementarity of neuroimaging evidence in this general line of research, contributing to a deeper understanding of the variability reported in the literature.

 

Publication news 1/2: New conceptual review on structural plasticity in the bilingual brain in Language Learning

Pliatsikas, C., DeLuca, V., & Voits, T. (2019):  The many shades of bilingualism: language experiences modulate adaptations in brain structure. To appear in Language Learning

To access, click here

Abstract:

Recent years have seen an expansion in the research related to structural brain adaptations related to the acquisition and processing of additional languages. However, the accumulating evidence remains to a great extent inconsistent, with a large variety of cortical, subcortical and cerebellar effects reported in various studies. Here we propose that the variability in the data can be explained by the differences in the language background and experiences of the tested samples. We also propose that the field should move away from monolithic bilingual vs. monolingual comparisons; instead, it should focus on the experiences of the bilingual groups as predictors of structural changes in the brain, and also employ longitudinal designs to test the dynamic effects of active bilingualism. The implications of the proposed approaches for the suggested benefits of bilingualism on ageing and patient populations are also discussed.

 

 

Updates on upcoming conference presentations

Our lab has a busy but exciting time ahead, as we are due to give seven presentations in several upcoming conferences! Specifically:

-Conference on Multilingualism 2019, September 1st-3rd, Leiden, The Netherlands

Oral:

01/09, 16:40-17:00, Room LIPSIUS/011: Fraibet Aveledo, Yolanda Higueras, Ariana Meldaña, Arpita Bose, Theo Marinis & Christos Pliatsikas:
The impact of bilingualism on general cognition in patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Poster:

Jia’en Yee, Ngee Thai Yap, Theo Marinis, Christos Pliatsikas & Doug Saddy:
Processing of Grammatical Morphemes: Evidence for Morphological Decomposition?

 

-Capturing and Quantifying Individual Differences in Bilingualism, September 2nd-3rd, 2019, Tromsø, Norway

Oral:

03/09, 10:30 – 11:00, Room E.0101:Vincent DeLuca, Jason Rothman, Ellen Bialystok & Christos Pliatsikas:
Individual bilingual experiences variably affect neurocognitive adaptation

03/09, 12:00 – 12:30, Room E.0101: Sergio M. Pereira Soares, Toms Voits, Vincent DeLuca, Christos Pliatsikas, Jason Rothman, Anastasia Christakou & Ellen Bialystok:
Beyond Structure: Investigating neurochemical bases for bilingualism-induced neural plasticity

Poster:

Toms Voits, Holly Robson, Jason Rothman & Christos Pliatsikas:
Bilingualism as a source of brain structure variability in ageing: an MRI study

 

-Symposium: Bilingualism and Cognition (BaC) (AMLaP satellite symposium), September the 5th, Moscow, Russia

Oral:

13:00-13:20, Room tbc: Sergio M. Pereira Soares, Toms Voits, Vincent DeLuca, Christos Pliatsikas, Jason Rothman, Anastasia Christakou & Ellen Bialystok:
Beyond Structure: Investigating neurochemical bases for bilingualism-induced neural plasticity

Poster:

Toms Voits, Holly Robson, Jason Rothman & Christos Pliatsikas:
Bilingualism as a source of brain structure variability in ageing: an MRI study

See you there!